Coin Collector Blog

Mullen Coins Collection Blog provides valuable articles and content about coin collections, rare coins, currency, antiquities and interesting reviews of news and events within the numismatic community.

States with Sales-Tax Exemptions on Precious Metals and Bullion

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Late last month when Minnesota governor signed H1A into law, it was great news for Minnesotans who want to invest in bullion. This is because the bill contained a sales-tax exemption on precious-metals bullion, ushering Minnesota into a group of 35 states that have a full or partial sales and use tax exemption on precious-metals bullion and coins.  

While it may seem against Minnesota’s best interest to collect less in revenues from businesses selling bullion, studies done in other states show that the sales tax revenues from other sources are increased by these kinds of exemptions. Because some states do not charge sales tax, buyers from other states will purchase bullion or collectible coins in those states rather than pay taxes in their own state. This is terrible for local coin dealers in states that border states with exemptions, as was previously the case with Minnesota. The competitive disadvantage for them translates into fewer sales, fewer employees, and less money in payroll and income taxes collected.

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The Story of the Currency of the Old National Bank of Grand Rapids

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People who have grown up using a universal United States currency are often surprised to learn how diverse historical American coinage and currency is. Local and state banks issued their own money, backed by reserve currency, and did business for hundreds of years this way. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Lincoln signed the National Bank Act into law. This created the United States National Banking System, a prototype of what we use today:

“The National Banking Act (ch. 58, 12 Stat. 665; February 25, 1863), originally known as the National Currency Act, and was passed in the Senate by a narrow 23–21 vote. The main goal of this act was to create a single national currency and to eradicate the problem of notes from multiple banks circulating all at once. The Act established national banks that could issue notes which were backed by the United States Treasury and printed by the government itself. The quantity of notes that a bank was allowed to issue was proportional to the bank's level of capital deposited with the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury. To further control the currency, the Act taxed notes issued by state and local banks, essentially pushing non-federally issued paper out of circulation.”

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How to Detect Counterfeits

How to Detect Counterfeits
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As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we at Mullen Coins have an especially strong interest in the detection of counterfeit and altered coins. In point of fact, anyone who deals with rare coins will develop a basic understanding of how to detect counterfeits, whether out of interest or necessity. If you are considering purchasing a rare date coin, or if you are looking to sell your coins, you may need to pay special attention to authenticity.

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To Be a Better Coin Buyer, Be a Good Coin Seller

To Be a Better Coin Buyer, Be a Good Coin Seller

I urge you to occasionally sell some of your coins—you will become a wiser, more educated collector. [You may also avoid unpleasant surprises when you do decide to sell some or all of your collection.]

Learn from my own story…I started collecting coins as a child.  Like most new collectors, my method was a trip to the bank to get rolls of Lincoln cents to search for better dates to put in my Whitman blue book.   It was a really fun treasure hunt.  I was buying valuable coins at face value!  But I did not sell any.

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What a Difference a Star Makes (1922 Grant Commemorative)

What a Difference a Star Makes (1922 Grant Commemorative)

When it comes to rare coins Grand Rapids (as well as other places across the country) Mullen Coins has many collectors who specialize in early American commemoratives. Indeed, commemoratives have been popular with collectors and history buffs ever since their inception, as we describe in our recent post about “Why Collectors Enjoy Commemoratives.” As an example of what makes commemoratives an interesting specialty, we can take the mystery of the 1922 Grant with Star commemorative silver half.

As the story goes, the Grant commemorative was originally requested by the Ulysses S. Grant Centenary Memorial Association, with the idea of raising funds to erect monuments and coordinate special observances in Ohio for the 100th anniversary of Grant’s birth. Originally, a bill was approved by Congress in 1922 to mint 10,000 gold dollars and up to 250,000 silver half dollars.

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Christmas Gift from Dad

Christmas Gift from Dad

Would you love to own a treasure chest? Filled with coins and other treasures?

For Christmas, two of my Grand Rapids clients displayed a true creative streak! They gifted each of their four adult children with a full treasure chest--loaded with his divided coin collection and other little beads and chocolate gold coins. You could pull this idea off for Valentine’s Day or other celebration.

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Why Collectors Enjoy Commemoratives

Why Collectors Enjoy Commemoratives

Depending on how you become interested in coin collecting, and where your interest leads you, you may someday find yourself talking to a Grand Rapids coin dealer about U.S. commemoratives. For those not familiar with the term, commemorative coins in the United States are issued to honor people, events, institutions, or places. Commemoratives have developed into a separate class of coins, intended as collector’s items or as an economic investment. They can be either circulating or non-circulating.

Circulating: Technically, there are a few examples of circulating commemoratives that are intended to be used for commerce, and the U.S. Bicentennial Quarter (1975-1976) and the 50 State Quarter (1999-2009) programs serve as prime examples. For these programs, the designs were only issued for a limited time, and were intended to draw some attention to a specific event or person.Non-circulating: In most cases, commemoratives are non-circulating legal tender (NCLT), and are often produced in gold or silver.  The funds raised by the sale of commemoratives have been used to pay for monuments or fund a specific project, as an alternative to raising taxes. For example, the 1925 California Diamond Jubilee half dollar was issued to help fund the state’s celebration, and the famous 1893 Isabella Quarter was issued to help raise funds for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

 

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Why Are Coin Values Increasing?

Why Are Coin Values Increasing?

One question I am sometimes asked (by people who know that I am a Grand Rapids coin dealer) is, “What are the trends in rare coin values?”

In general, over long periods of time, rare coin values tend to increase.  This has certainly been the case for rare coins over the past two years… but the key word is “rare.”   When a coin’s value is largely determined by rarity (along with condition and desirability) vs. bullion content, values tend to rise over time.  However, when a coin’s value is largely tied to the spot price of silver and gold, its value will rise and fall with the value of the metal.  Gold and silver prices have declined in the past two years; hence, bullion coin values have also declined.  

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Insuring Your Coin Collection

Insuring Your Coin Collection

Whether you’re an avid rare coin collector or a Grand Rapids coin dealer, insuring your coin collection can be one of the best ways to protect your investment and give you peace of mind. With an annual cost that is often around 1% of the value of your collection, it may be worth considering for any collector. For professional collectors and dealers, the cost is even a deductible expense. 

Many beginning collectors assume that their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers their rare coin collection. It’s true that some homeowners’ policies will cover small coin theft, but many policies have exclusion clauses. Read your insurance policy carefully to find out what it does and doesn’t cover.

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6 Tips for Selling an Estate Coin Collection

6 Tips for Selling an Estate Coin Collection

For most people, an inherited rare coin collection is a part of a larger estate, which may also include property, IRAs, investment assets, cars, or land. Since the coin collection is usually a smaller part of the inheritance, the inheritors often would like to liquidate the collection. As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we have had many opportunities to assist with estate coin collections, and can offer few suggestions for how to proceed (although please understand that I am not an estate attorney):

Resist any temptation to clean the coins. Again, do not clean the coins, because much of the value of coins is their “original” condition. You will devalue the coins if you clean them.Look for any written directives about how to divide the collection, or documentation of the collection. If everyone involved decides to sell the collection and share the proceeds, in most cases it’s necessary to determine the value of the collection as a part of the total estate.Get a general sense of the value of the collection. In the absence of an inventory, you can do a little sorting and value estimation on your own, with the help of coin books and websites, depending on the time and interest you have. For non-experts, the main issue with selling an estate coin collection is to determine whether you have a collection or an accumulation. An accumulation may be either pocket change, or a group of coins that interested the owner but has no real numismatic value. It can be helpful if you can find some indication of where the coins were originally purchased and what was paid. This information could come from an inventory, or original flips (the old coin holders), or receipts and notes.Seek the help of a reputable coin dealer for a valuation of the collection.   Check to see if dealer is a member of the local Better Business Bureau, the local Chamber of Commerce, and state and national coin organizations such as the American Numismatic Association.   If you would like to work with a Grand Rapids coin dealer, contact Mullen Coins for a free coin valuation.Decide whether you’d like to keep any part of the rare coin collections as a memento. How do you decide which coin(s) are representative of the collection? You can always choose a rare coin that has most interested you over the years, or one that you know was the collector’s favorite. If you’re not sure which coin reflects the collection, you can always ask when you have the collection evaluated. One of the things we find most fascinating at Mullen Coins, when evaluating a coin collection, is that we get a real sense of the interests and workings of the collector.Sell the collection. The way you sell your coins most profitably will depend on their value. Several of the avenues for selling your coins follow:

 

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How Do Coin Evaluations Work?

How Do Coin Evaluations Work?

When someone requests an evaluation of his or her rare coins, it is usually for a specific reason – an insurance appraisal, a division of assets, or to learn the value for the purchase or sale of a collection. It’s important to understand the basics of how coin evaluations work to make sure you get a fair valuation and – if you’re planning to sell your coin collection – a fair price.

How do you choose a coin evaluator/appraiser?

Many people who live near a trusted and reputable coin dealer prefer to visit the dealer in person. It is best to arrange your meeting ahead of time so that neither of you is rushed. You’ll want to make sure the dealer handles the type of coins you have, and whether they may be interested in buying your coins.

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Choosing the Right Storage to Protect Coin Values

Choosing the Right Storage to Protect Coin Values

When collecting rare coins, you should consider several factors when deciding where and how to store them.  Proper storage will preserve the condition and appearance of the coins and, therefore, maximize value.  Here is a list of helpful hints about what to consider when storing your coin collection. 

The coin’s container is critical to long-term storage.  Avoid soft plastic PVC holders and other soft plastic packages.  Over time, PVC will damage the coin's surface and destroy its potential value.  Coins should be stored in hard plastic mylar flips, in coin books such as Dansco albums or in hard plastic coin roll containers.  Cardboard/plastic flips requiring staples are acceptable for coin storage, assuming the staples are properly clamped.  Improperly stapled flips can easily scratch other coins.Avoid other containers that might allow chemical reactions over long periods of time.  Any box or can that might rust or decay over time is not a good container to store coins.  A rusting can will eventually damage the contents.  Avoid soft plastic bags such as baggies… over time, these will also damage coins. Again, consider using hard plastic containers specifically designed for long-term coin storage.A climate-controlled environment is critically important to long-term storage. Coins should be stored in locations which are not subject to large temperature variations or humidity changes.  Attics and basements are possibly the worst imaginable environments.  Keep coins in safes, safe boxes, or at a minimum, in main floor locations with consistent temperatures. More valuable coins should be stored in hard plastic containers such as TPG (Third Party Grading Service) holders or modern hard plastic holders designed specifically for coins.  Even holdered coins should be stored in a properly climate controlled environment. Avoid storing coins in containers with other items which might cause unattractive toning.  Similar to the way silverware darkens when stored, silver coins will also react to environmental gas emissions from variety of common household items.   Even coins stored in appropriate holders  may "tone" over time due to gas emissions from such things as cardboard boxes, fabrics, or paints. 

Whether your coin collection consists of one rare coin or a whole safe full, the method you choose for storage requires thought and care.   It is also wise to physically examine your coins' appearance to be certain they remain in pristine condition.

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Negotiating a Coin Transaction

Negotiating a Coin Transaction

Long before I became a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I realized that certain coins no longer fit into my collections. At a certain point, as a coin hobbyist or investor, you will undoubtedly come to the same realization. Maybe you have decided to collect a different series, or trade up to a higher grade. Or perhaps one of your set just doesn't measure up to the appearance of the others.

It pays to hone your negotiation skills, and a few basic tips can take you far when negotiating sales and trades from your coin collection.

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Rare Coin Prices Continue to Increase!!

Rare Coin Prices Continue to Increase!!

The Eric Newman collection of 1,800 exceptional examples of US rare coins sold at auction this past week for more than $23,000,000! Not bad for a $7,500 investment!!

As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I was an active bidder for some of these exceptional coins. The bidding was fierce and I was outbid by record prices on nearly every lot. Rare coin prices are STRONG!

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A Reading List for Collecting Rare Coins

A Reading List for Collecting Rare Coins

If you are interested in collecting rare coins, follow the old adage of “buy the book before you buy the coin.”  As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I know from experience that you can find nice collectable coins in West Michigan that are important, valuable and worth holding for many years.   Like any hobby, though, knowledge is power. You need to buy and read numismatic books and magazines, and gain an understanding of what makes a coin desirable to other collectors.   Acquiring such knowledge before buying expensive coins should help you make better buying decisions and, most likely, help you build a collection that will be easy to sell in the future.

So what books should you buy and read?  By the time you develop specialties, you will know which books to acquire, but there are a few that belong in every numismatic library.  

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Are You New to Coin Collecting?

Are You New to Coin Collecting?

If you happen to be new to coin collecting, welcome to a world that has its own language. Before a new collector can begin to focus on coin values or hunt for rare coins Grand Rapids may be hiding, the collector needs to know some basic numismatic terms.

I addressed important concepts about a coin's appearance, condition, rarity, and ultimately, the value in another blog, "Characteristics of Rare, Collectible, and Valuable Coins" on August 9, 2012. Now let's talk about "Type" coins, commemoratives and proofs, and varieties and errors. Because each of these categories is heavily influenced by Mint marks, and rarity and condition, I have also touched on these here.

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Investing in Gold - What are my options?

Investing in Gold - What are my options?

Buying gold as an investment might seem pretty straightforward until you begin to consider all your options.  Gold comes in many forms and values vary accordingly.  Perhaps more importantly, future values are dependent upon the form of gold you own, and whether gold prices are trending up or down at any given future time.  Let me explain.

First, you may invest in physical gold or in gold contracts.  While you can buy gold contracts, gold futures, gold stocks and other paper investments, for purposes of this discussion, we will focus on physical gold.  This is gold you take possession of and put away in a safe place.

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Enjoy the “Hunt” for Nice Coins!

Enjoy the “Hunt” for Nice Coins!

Coin collectors come from all walks of life, but one thing nearly all have in common is that they love the hunt. With some knowledge of coin collecting and coin values in their pocket, experienced collectors enjoy searching for “great coin collection finds” anywhere coins can be found – estate sales, garage sales, antique stores and flea markets. Many also attend local auctions, coin shows and coin shops.  Most collectors have found treasures in such venues, and knowledgeable collectors have likely also found valuable errors and varieties. 

Coin shows are fun because you can visit a good number of dealers on the same day.  You may have a first-hand opportunity to see a whole variety of coins. Because many dealers specialize in a certain type of coinage, you may find an expert on your particular interest. If you are a treasure hunter, you may find a dealer with coins of particular interest to you, but who lacks the specialized knowledge for that series.  Your expertise can lead to “cherry picking” valuable coins. 

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6 Experienced Coin Collector Favorites

6 Experienced Coin Collector Favorites

Every experienced collector has a favorite coin, and as a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I have had the pleasure of seeing many of them.  While each collector’s personal favorite may not be the most valuable gem in their collection, there is usually a story behind it (as in the case of "The Extraordinary Eric Newman and His Extraordinary Favorite Coin").

As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I am sometimes asked what the most important coins are for any experienced collector. There are, of course, a number of ways to answer that question, because every collector has different goals.   Instead of focusing on favorite coins, maybe the focus should be on coins that require a bit of collector knowledge.   As is the case with nearly all things, knowledge is power. In the collecting world, powerful knowledge can mean big value. 

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The Extraordinary Eric Newman and His Extraordinary Favorite Coin

Numismatists dream of owning the rarest and most desirable coins—perhaps an 1804 Silver Dollar, or just one of five known 1913 Liberty Nickels.  This Grand Rapids coin dealer is no exception!  Just imagine owning an 1804 Silver Dollar, AND all five 1913 Liberty Nickels!   As a foremost U.S. numismatist and numismatic scholar, centenarian Eric P. Newman has owned all of these, and many more.   Which of these noted rarities was his favorite? Answer: None!

Mr. Newman’s favorite coin is the gold 1792 George Washington President “pattern coin,” privately made by Obadiah Westwood at his mint in Birmingham, England, from dies engraved by John Gregory Hancock.   This one-of-a-kind numismatic treasure is part of the two percent of Mr. Newman’s collection on display at The Newman Money Museum in St. Louis*. 

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